PERFORMANCE: Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust has been removed from significant breach by Monitor after more than three years.

The trust has been in significant breach since September 2009 primarily for persistent failure to hit the four hour accident and emergency target. In May this year Monitor invoked its powers of intervention to order the trust to take “immediate action” to address the failures, including appointing an “intensive support team” from NHS Interim Management and Support.

Trust nursing director Maggie Arnold was made project director for the turnaround programme. Performance against the 95 per cent target improved from 90.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011-12 to 96.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2012-13.

Monitor’s regulation committee met this week and agreed the trust had made “sustainable” improvement and was no longer breaching the terms of its authorisations.

Monitor’s managing director of provider regulation Stephen Hay said: “Gloucestershire has made substantial improvements to the way it runs its A&E which has resulted in its improved performance against the A&E target. We are therefore removing the trust from significant breach.”

The trust took a number of actions to improve patient flow including recruiting more emergency nurse practitioners, introducing earlier and more frequent ward rounds to spped up patient discharge and developing surgical assessment units which has reduced the number of patients who need to be admitted.

New consultation cubicles were built in emergency departments at both Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General hospitals.

Mrs Arnold said although quality of care had never suffered the board acknowledged patient experience was effected by the long waits.

On taking on the role she began by speaking to staff in all parts of the trust’s two hospitals.

Mrs Arnold said; “Communication with all staff, from porters to the general managers to the information people, was crucial so that everybody understood what it was we were trying to achieve and that they had a part to play. It is not just down to the A&E staff.”

Trust chair Clair Chilvers, said: “I would like to thank all the staff involved for their determination to turn this situation round in order to make a positive difference to our patients. It is a great tribute to what our staff and our partner organisations can do when they all work together.

“We recognise that our emergency departments are very busy places and we will continue to look at how to deliver that very important service in the best possible way for the benefit of people in Gloucestershire.  The work of the emergency care programme will, therefore, continue for the foreseeable future.”